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Baltimore National Pike shopping centers attractive ground for businesses

Going out of business sales are a sign of harsh economic times, but representatives of two shopping centers along Baltimore National Pike in Catonsville said for every business that closes, a line has already formed to take that space.

By the end of the month, the Toys 'R' Us in the One Mile West Shopping Center will close after four decades at its location at 6600 Baltimore National Pike.

The vacancy won't last long.

Lotte Plaza, an Asian and international market, has already signed a lease to take over the space, said Bob Pollokoff, president of Fedder Management Corp., which owns the shopping center.

Pollokoff said Lotte Plaza, which has another location in Ellicott City, will renovate the interior of the building and likely open by the end of the summer.

Lotte Plaza, Pollokoff said, currently has stores in Maryland, Virginia, Pennsylvania and New York.

According to the company's website, the store offers 10,000 Asian food items.

"We've been very successful with the shopping center since we acquired it in 2001," Pollokoff said. "We found another tenant that believes in Catonsville and will be a very good addition to the center."

The market, Pollokoff said, plans to target traffic from Baltimore County and the surrounding areas.

"We're very excited," Pollokoff said. "We think it's going to bring tremendous traffic into Catonsville from outside the area."

Farther east, the 40 West Shopping Center at the intersection of North Rolling Road and Baltimore National Pike currently has three open spaces, but that number will shrink to one by the end of February.

Patricia Palumbo, leasing agent for the 47-year-old shopping center, said Sweet Frog Premium Frozen Yogurt and America's Best Wings and Seafood have gobbled up two spaces.

"We're very pleased with the performance of the shopping center. It's one of the best in our portfolio," said Palumbo, a former Catonsville resident who moved to Relay 15 years ago. "Our biggest problem there is parking, which is a nice problem to have."

There are 479 parking spaces on the lot of the center, which was built in 1964, according to the center's website.

The 20 stores at the center offer a mix of national chains, such as Starbucks, Fed Ex Kinkos and EB Games, with local businesses, such as the H Mart and the Chinese restaurant Hunan Taste. That variety has contributed to the center's success, Palumbo said.

"We found the right mix of ethnicity and national tenants that keep it going," Palumbo said.

Baltimore National Pike attracts businesses both local and national, Palumbo said, because each day more than 50,000 vehicles travel down the road.

Still, the 40 West Shopping Center has seen a half dozen businesses close in the past 12 months, Palumbo said.

"The stores that are closed, they've closed more than one location," Palumbo said. "The closures that took place were the result of corporate decisions, not the result of the geographic location of the shopping center."

Sally Griffin, the president of the Greater Catonsville Chamber of Commerce, said the investment into the business spaces didn't surprise her and that the success isn't unique to Baltimore National Pike.

Many areas of Catonsville, Griffin said, continue to have businesses willing to invest in them.

"I think Frederick Road is pretty much the same as what's going on in Route 40," Griffin said. "Catonsville is fortunate because you don't see the empty storefronts. People see it as a viable place to open business and do business."

Efforts to contact representatives of Pike Park Plaza on Baltimore National Pike were unsuccessful.

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